Archive for category Serums

G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Concentrate & Eye Contour

OMG. I’m still here. I know, it’s been ages! I picked up a few things today from Sephora in light of the 15% discount and it got me in the mood to post. Let’s do this!

Back at the end of November, I showed you guys my current skincare routine and mentioned a handful of products I had been trying from G.M. Collin. At that point, I gave you a quick overview of their Bota-Peptide Eye Contour, but I hadn’t yet tried the Bota-Peptide Concentrate. Today I wanted to give you a more in-depth review of both of these items since I’m long overdue!

GM Collin Bota Peptide

First, a quick primer on peptides and why they’re important in the fight against aging skin. Peptides are amino acids that help bind moisture to the skin and help the skin to repair itself. More importantly, peptides applied topically to the skin encourage collagen production, which helps reverse some of the natural breakdown of collagen we experience over time (from age and external factors like sun and stress). Since collagen is what keeps our skin supple-looking and youthful, it’s a great idea to regularly use a product that boosts it’s production.

OK. So, the name ‘Bota-Peptide’ in both the eye treatment and serum is probably an indication we’re on the right track, yes? And indeed, both the Eye Contour and Concentrate are packed with a host of different peptides to battle the appearance of expression lines and wrinkles; the Eye Contour also is designed to reduce dark circles.

The Eye Contour ($96CAD) is a light eye serum that is somewhat hydrating as well (likely due to the Sodium Hyaluronate), as I can get away without any additional eye cream after using this (though note my undereye area isn’t particularly dry). Now that I’ve been using this daily for over 4 months (and wow, I just realized how long this has lasted!!!), I can confidently say that it has reduced any fine lines I’ve started to develop under my eyes – the area just looks so much smoother. I don’t know if my dark circles are reduced – I mean, they’re REALLY DARK so I have a long way to improvement – but the ingredient list boasts some badass circle-lightening ingredients (such as Vitamin K, caffeine and Haloxyl) that make me think they probably are lessened and I just haven’t been paying attention (oops).

Ingredients: Water, Phytonadione (Vitamin K), Phospholipids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Arachidyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone, Steareth-20, Dipeptide-2, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, PEG-6 Isostearate, Hesperetin Laurate, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Chrysin, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Polysorbate-20, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3, Squalane (Vegetal), Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Germ) Oil, Hydrolyzed Hibiscus Esculentus Extract, Dextrin, Soybean (Glycine Soya), Caffeine, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Octyldodecanol, Irvingia Gabonensis Kernel (Wild Mango) Butter, Hydrogenated Cocoglycerides, Ethylhexylglycerin, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A).

GM Collin Bota PeptideTop to bottom: G.M. Collin Eye Contour and Concentrate

The Concentrate ($132CAD) has a very similar texture to the Eye Contour, which feels neither silicone-y nor *too* thin, and has a clean scent that I don’t even really register when using (which is my preference). I use this in the evening and apply a facial oil over top, though in the summer I could probably get away with using it on it’s own as it seems to provide a very light veil of moisture (dry skins will still need a moisturizer though). It dispenses easily from an airless pump mechanism; generally I use 2 pumps and this covers my face and neck sufficiently. As I rotate my skincare, alternating with a retinoid product, I use this every 2nd evening, and I always notice in the morning how soft and smooth my skin feels after using this. As I have few wrinkles I didn’t notice any drastic results, but I will say that the expression lines in my forehead have decreased since using this, and I honestly just feel like my skin looks more youthful.

Ingredients: Water, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Cyclomethicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract, Glycerin, Carbomer, Polysorbate-20, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Butylene Glycol, Laureth-3, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Acetyl Di-Peptide-1, Cetyl Ester, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Glucosamine Hcl, Saccharomyces/Xylinum Black Tea Ferment, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Extract, Polydodecanamideaminium Triazadiphenylethylene Sulfonate, Polyvinylalcohol Crosspolymer, Dimethicone Cosspolymer, Thermus Thermophillis Ferment, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polyacrylamide, C13-C14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Dimethiconol, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Sodium Hydroxide, Ammonium Acrylate-Acrylamide Copolymer, Polyisobutene, Fragrance, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil. 

One other note: the PR person who sent this to me cautioned that as I have sensitive skin around my mouth, I might not want to use this in that area as it’s a powerful treatment product – however, after using it for the past several months, I’ve starting using it in that area anyway and have had absolutely no issues.

GM Collin Bota Peptide

The final verdict? I really, really like these two products! I’m surprised at how much so. Though it pains me and my wallet, I actually think I’ll pick both of these up again when I run out – I just feel like they proof is in the pudding, both in my results and in the stellar ingredient lists. I mean, who doesn’t want their skin to look like this again?:

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Have you tried any G.M. Collin products? Do you use any peptide-based products?

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Two more hits from Kypris Beauty: the Antioxidant Dew & the Beauty Elixir III

Several months ago, the lovely Chase Polan and her team sent along 2 products from her outstanding organic skincare line Kypris as a gift for me to enjoy. I was beyond excited to try more products from the brand, as I’d already fallen in love with the retinol alternative, Moonlight Catalyst (review here) and the newest addition to the family, the Body Elixir: Inflorescence (review here). However, I had skincare coming out of my ears at that point, and I didn’t want to open the bottles until I was ready to use them. In December, I finally had an ‘opening’ in my morning skincare routine, so I cracked open the Antioxidant Dew eagerly. Then, this month after finishing up another oil, I started applying the Beauty Elixir III in the evening as my final step, so now can talk about these products and share with you my experiences!

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The Antioxidant Dew ($67US for 47mL) is an extremely lightweight, milky serum that is designed to restore strength, vitality and radiance to skin. As the name suggests, it’s loaded with antioxidants such as ferulic acid to fight free radicals, while also soothing inflammation and hydrating the skin.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

There are many things to love about this serum: the beautifully light texture (SO perfect for layering!); how supple, calm and healthy my skin looks after use; how incredibly hydrated my skin feels with absolutely NO greasiness whatsoever. Though I generally use this sandwiched between a Vitamin C serum and a sunscreen, I’ve used alone on occasion and have felt no need for an additional layer of moisture. I also enjoy that this is free of essential oils so that all skins, reactive or otherwise, can use it without worry. Below is the ingredient list:

Water/Aqua, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Xylitylglucoside, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Algae, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Phospholipids, Phragmites Communis (Reed) Extract, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Poria Cocos Extract, Xylitol, Anhydroxylitol, Waltheria Indica Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Calophyllum Inophylum (Tamanu) Seed Oil, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Superoxide Dismutase, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Mannitol, Dextrin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Levulinate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Gluconate, Xanthan Gum.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

I think the biggest selling point for me is that I can wear this serum in the day – as many organic treatment products are oil-heavy, I find they can leave my skin a touch too shiny (though I suspect for the more dry-skinned out there that this isn’t a problem). I love that I can pair this with other products without feeling weighed down or suffocated. So beautiful!

Kypris Beauty Elixir III

The Beauty Elixir III – Prismatic Array ($150US for 47mL) is a face oil that is filled with actives like CoQ10 (antioxidant) and Vitamin C ester (boosts collagen), as well as phytonutrients and essential fatty acids, all without essential oils to accommodate especially sensitive complexions (like mine!). It’s designed to help repair signs of environmental stressors as well as softening, nourishing and moisturizing skin so it looks more luminous.

This oil is extremely nourishing – you can tell as soon as you press it into the skin that you’re getting a treat. It’s rich amber color gives it away, anyway! This is packed with awesome oils like grape seed, baobab, kukui nut, tamanu, pumpkin seed and prickly pear (aka barbary fig seed), as well as black raspberry seed and cranberry seed. So much goodness! I apply this at night as my last step over a peptide serum and it gives me the best glow. In the morning, I wake up with plump-looking, soft skin that doesn’t feel greasy (though I do avoid using this around my nose where I get the most oily). While I love oils, I don’t always find I notice their effects in the same way as a serum – the biggest factors in whether or not I will repurchase one are: Does it irritate my skin? (Nope.)  Does it have long-lasting hydration? (Yep.)  If it’s a blend, does it contain many of my favourite skincare oils? (Yep!). Check, check and CHECK.

Even though there are no essential oils in this mixture, I also love the way it smells! Like the best blend of natural oils with a hint of sweetness. It’s not your typical ‘earthy’ scent; you know, the kind that isn’t offensive exactly but it smells like dirt and trees and herbs? This is nothing like that – maybe it’s the inclusion of coconut oil. Which, while we’re on the topic, I was very nervous about (it’s why I hadn’t ordered this myself previously), but this serum hasn’t been a problem for my skin in the least, happily!

Les ingrédients:

Helianthus annuus (Sunflower Seed) Oil, Cocos nucifera (Virgin Coconut) Oil, Vitis vinifera (Grape Seed) Oil, Adansonia digitata (baobab) Oil, Aleurites moloccans (Kukui) Oil, Calophyllum inophyllum (Tamanu) Oil, Curcubita pepo (Pumpkin Seed) Oil, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Opuntia engelmannii (Prickly Pear Seed) Oil, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Extract, Hippophae rhamonides (Seabuckthorn Bearry) Extract, Punica granatum (Pomegranate Seed) Extract, Rubus occidentalis (Black Raspberry Seed) Oil, Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry Seed) Oil, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (From Licorice), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C Ester), Non- GMO Mixed Tocopherols.

Kypris Beauty Elixir III

Clearly, I need to add these 2 fantastic products to my regular roster. There are just so many things to like about them, and about Kypris in general – Chase seems to be one of the loveliest people (she always sends hand-written, personalized notes with her packages); they consistently use one of my favourite oils, tamanu, in their formulations; and I appreciate their ethos on so many levels (some of which I talked about here). And, a newly important factor for me is that they’re cruelty free!

Though I do try and avoid essential oils when I can, the other 2 Beauty Elixirs (versions I & II) sound so appealing; I’ve never really tried any products where rose oil was a predominant feature (as it is in the Beauty Elixir I) so I think that’s next on my list! I will mention that though the Elixirs feel a bit cost prohibitive (upwards of $150US), you do get more bang for your buck as general oil blends are only 30mL – and I just discovered that they offer seasonal pairings on the site which give you a discounted price (for example, right now you can get the full sizes of the Beauty Elixir I and the Antioxidant Dew for $265US, which would normally cost you $292US). And recently I heard a tip from Sugar Mamma that resonated with me – if you truly love something, you won’t mind paying full price. I have a habit of sometimes trying to find alternatives for items that I love, and always feeling dissatisfied (and sometimes spending more in the process!). Don’t do it! Of course, you don’t know if you love something before trying it, so Kypris kindly offers ‘mini’ sizes of their products for a fraction of the price:)

Have you tried Kypris products before? 

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Skincare Heros: My current routine and fave products

Do you remember when Elena was first born and I complained about barely being able to shower, let alone take care of my skin? It feels like forever ago that I was struggling to take care of myself in any way, shape or form; thankfully, those days are (mostly) past and though I don’t have much time for myself, I have made a point to dedicate some time every morning and evening toward my skin. In fact, I think I’ve never treated my skin better! I think the combination of products along with maintaining a solid routine has made all the difference. Lately I’ve been placing a heavy emphasis on brightening products that help even out the skin tone, and tailoring my application according to what my skin needs in specific areas. This AM I looked in the mirror and was like ‘DA-AMN girl, your skin looks good!’ …So I figured I should share with you my skincare ‘secrets’:) Here’s what my routine looks like, morning and night:

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MORNING

Cleanse with NUDE Perfect Cleanse Clarifying Cleansing Oil ($45CAD). The reason I picked up this cleanser in the first place was because it contains grapeseed oil as the 2nd ingredient, which is great for oilier / clog-prone skin as it’s high in linoleic acid (see my post on skincare oils and their compositions here). I’ve been searching for a grapeseed oil-heavy oil cleanser but they’re hard to come by for some reason, so when this came on the market a few months ago I snapped it up ASAP. Happily, it was a great purchase as I absolutely love it. It doesn’t contain a host of fragrance or essential oils to potentially irritate my skin (which it doesn’t), and it cleanses beautifully without drying my skin out at all. Though you can use it as a first cleanse to remove makeup etc., I actually use it as my morning cleanser on it’s own as I want my skin to benefit from the good oils and ingredients, rather than washing them away in a second cleanse. It’s a perfect beginning step to prep and protect my skin for the colder weather outside. I’ll be repurchasing it without hesitation.

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Tone with Algenist Hydrating Essence Toner ($30CAD). Because I am a beauty junkie, I’m susceptible to any new fad on the market, and I became determined to find and use an ‘essence – essentially a hybrid between a toner and serum, and which is used in between those two steps. Algenist’s Essence Toner has high rating on both Sephora and Paula’s Choice (though I don’t think she knows it ALL, I do appreciate the research done on that site and use it to cross-reference product research often), AND it’s affordable for a high-end brand, so I picked it up back in October. I can’t tell for sure how hydrating it is, as my skin isn’t particularly parched, but I do prefer to keep my skin as moist as I can anyway (seems to keep me from over-producing sebum) with lightweight products, and this can be used all over my face, even in my sensitive areas like around my mouth, without any issues at all. That in itself makes this a total winner in my books!

G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Treating Mist. I was kindly sent the Normalizing Travel Kit ($42CAD), among a couple other products, from G.M. Collin and I was so keen to try them out once they arrived. Having mostly normal skin with some oiliness in the t-zone, the Normalizing kit is perfect for me as helps keep skin balanced. The Treating Mist is designed to enhance the effectiveness of your other skincare, much like other facial mists, and leaves skin with a matte finish. I spray this on my t-zone only after using the Algenist Toner and it really does keep that area less shiny throughout the day. The nozzle is a bit powerful so I make sure to spray it about a foot away from my face to get a more even misting.

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G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Eye Contour ($96CAD). I was most eager to try out this eye treatment from G.M. Collin as it’s been on my wishlist for years now, but I could never bring myself to buy it. It gets amazing reviews and is purported to reduce the appearance of dark circles, expression lines and wrinkles, and is de-puffing. I’ve only been using it for about 2-3 weeks now, so I can’t report major changes to my undereye area just yet, but I do find that it looks smoother and incredibly hydrated, and I feel like I’m less concerned about my perpetual darkness. The texture is PERFECT, thick enough to be hydrating but not at all greasy or heavy, and it absorbs extremely well and quickly so it works fantastically under eye makeup. My concealer has never looked better or more natural.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C (see full review) ($39.99CADnow on sale at Well.ca for $29.99!). Still totally digging this serum! It is the perfect consistency – more like a gel than a silicone-heavy serum, so it feels lovely and lightweight and I am entirely comfortable layering additional product over it. It really does help lighten any dark spots and even out my skintone, and as a bonus it contains niacinamide to also protect my skin from environmental aggressors. I love this stuff!

Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 30 ($15.49CAD). After searching high and low all summer for the Neutrogena Pure & Free liquid that sound right up my alley, I scoured the drugstore aisles at Shoppers for another facial sunscreen alternative that wouldn’t break the bank (the higher the cost, the more I want to skimp on application, and that’s counter-productive, no?). I ended up choosing this SPF lotion from Eucerin as it contained physical ‘screens (my preference) as well as chemical. I was a bit wary as some chemical sunscreens aren’t friendly to my sensitive skin, but I’ve had zero issues with this – in fact, I actually think it might be the best facial sunscreen I’ve ever used on my skin! It leaves my skin looking moisturized and with a lovely, healthy glow, minus ANY shine or greasy effect. Though it’s of medium viscosity, it blends in easily and absorbs quickly. Fragrance free with an SPF of 30, at a totally great price point…you kind of can’t go wrong with this.

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EVENING

G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Mild Cleansing Gel. Another step in the Normalizing Kit, I use this gel as my second cleanse after oil cleansing (currently I’m trying to finish a bottle of pure Pumpkin Seed oil). I am surprised at how much I enjoy using this – I’m not one for gel and/or foaming cleansers, as they often leave me feeling drier than I’d like; this, however, truly IS mild as I feel absolutely NO tightness after use and my skin feels incredibly soft. Definitely the nicest gel cleanser I’ve tried!

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Joe Fresh Refresh Facial Toner ($12CAD). I picked this up on a whim when I needed a new facial mist/toner-type product, and I fell for the clean, classic packaging of the Joe Fresh skincare line. Honestly, I’m not a total beauty snob, I just like great packaging – if something is cheap but looks luxe, I’m all for it! On top of the fabulous bottle, the product itself is great – the ingredients are simple (such as glycerin, aloe and green tea & cucumber extracts) and it’s effective at toning my skin in an incredibly soothing way. I will be buying this again and again, no question.

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G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Cream. The final step in the Normalizing Kit, this cream is formulated to purify and hydrate the skin while also refining it’s texture. As it’s essentially winter now, I only use this in my t-zone as that is my ‘trouble’ area, and so far it’s been doing a great job at refining the pores on my nose and inner cheeks. This would make an excellent moisturizer for someone looking for a product to mattify and keep any oiliness or large pores in check.

Kahina Giving Beauty Brightening Serum ($95CAD). I’d read a review on No More Dirty Looks awhile back saying this was excellent at evening out the skintone and ever since it’s been on my radar. When it popped up on Petal & Post months ago at a  considerable sale discount – down to something like $54! – I scooped it up, even though I was flush with other brightening products (I’m kind of obsessed). After using up another serum, it was time to give this a shot, and I am beyond pleased at the results – aside from making my skin feel baby soft upon waking in the AM, it truly has evened out my skin significantly; it’s the best it’s looked in years. I rarely wear foundation now as it’s just an extra, unnecessary step and I feel I look a lot better without it, truth be told. This is another *repurchase* product for sure (buuuuut…maybe when it’s on sale, yea?).

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G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Eye Contour. Lather, rinse, repeat. I use this day and night:)

There are a few other products I didn’t mention (namely, a face oil that I add to my sunscreen if it’s particularly chilly out; a hydrating mask and a purifying mask I use when needed; and two different exfoliants, one manual, one chemical) – mostly because, as much as they seem to be working for me, they’re aren’t game-changers in my books and I’ll probably replace them with something new when the time comes. Otherwise though, this is it – and I gotta say, I can’t remember a time when there were so many products in my arsenal that I plan to repurchase (and with so many of them reasonably affordable too)! I’m a fickle beast and even if I like something, I usually am keen to try something else out of boredom – but these products are working so well for me that I’m not sure if making a switch is wise! Maybe I’m just getting too old (erm, or not OLD but just lacking an excess of time in which to spend the energy researching new products to try)…either way, I’m really happy with my routine, and if it means I’m boring – so be it!

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derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum with Vitamin C {review}

I guiltily admit that sometimes I have a mental block when it comes to cosmetics – though more expensive definitely doesn’t mean better, in my head for some reason I can’t truly appreciate a beauty product’s value unless it costs me an arm and a leg. Why? I dunno what it’s all about, but I am trying to change that – when it comes to skincare at least (with makeup, I don’t mind so much as my expensive taste keeps me from buying EVERY DAMN THING IN SIGHT). And right now in particular, there are some amazing skincare products that are actually affordable (check out Tracy’s post on Deciem if you don’t believe me)!

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum with Vitamin C ($29.95) is one such product. I’ve used a couple derma e products in the past and liked them a fair bit, but in general I often passed by their offerings because…well, I guess my snobby self found them too accessible and affordable lol. Shame, shame, double shame. After trying out the Brightening Serum, I can say absolutely that I have learned from the error in my ways.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C

Designed to brighten skin by addressing uneven pigmentation and age damage (ie. sun spots), this treatment serum has a whole host of active ingredients in its formulation to fight discolouration and help to achieve more evenly toned, luminous skin. A quick scan of the first handful of ingredients reveals that it contains: niacinamide, an anti-inflammatory that enhances skin’s barrier function and helps erase discolourations; licorice root, anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps improve dark spots and pigmentation by inhibiting the stimulation of an enzyme that activates melanin production; sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable, water-soluble form of vitamin C that helps slow down the aging process; and bearberry & alpha-arbutin, both natural skin brighteners with lightening properties.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum with Vitamin C ingredientsApparently the serum has been reformulated – this is the new, accurate ingredient list

Happily, all of those good ingredients don’t go to waste and lose potency in a jar formulation – the serum is in a bottle with a nice pump, which dispenses the perfect amount of serum in one press.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C

Also handy is the fact that they’ve printed the expiration date of the product right on the bottom of the bottle itself.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C

One thing to note however, is that date shows the product being good for almost 3 years. The serum does contain preservatives – namely, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, and Ethylhexylglycerin. These are considered safer alternatives to parabens (of which this serum is free), but I still wanted to give a heads up to those of you looking for an entirely preservative-free formulation.

The texture of the serum is like a gel, but without any stickiness or slippery, filmy feeling whatsoever – it glides on and absorbs within a minute, and leaves my normal-oily skin feeling comfortable and soft. I have been using it as both my treatment and hydrator, and I don’t need a separate moisturizer at all (though dry skins will likely need something additional to hydrate).

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum

I’ve been using this regularly each morning for just over 6 weeks and I quite like it. I had the presence of mind to take before and after shots (considering the fact that I have ‘mommy brain’ AND taking into account my severe lack of sleep due, this is highly impressive) so you can see the results (sorry for the difference in lighting):

BEFORE (June 25)

Before derma e brightening serum Before derma e brightening serum Before derma e brightening serumSee those gray hairs poking out!??

AFTER (August 10)

After derma e brightening serum After derma e brightening serum After derma e brightening serumPlease excuse the weird, flat shape of my hair, I’d just washed it – I give it some oomph once its dry:)

As you can see, my skin is definitely more even-toned, with most of the scarring from the small postpartum breakout I had considerably faded. Now, I do exfoliate regularly, in a variety of ways (exfoliating serum every 2nd night, exfoliating mask 1x/week, acid toning pads 1-2x/week, manual scrub 1x/week) so take that into consideration too, but I’m confident that with that stellar ingredient list, derma e’s serum definitely plays a part in the change in my skin. The niacinamide and stable vitamin c alone have sold me on this; because the niacinamide boosts skin’s barrier function, it’s perfect for use during the day to protect skin from environmental aggressors, and vitamin c’s antioxidant power helps fight off the sun’s potentially damaging free radicals. FABULOUS.

I am definitely impressed by this serum, and the fact that it’s affordable yet still has effective, mostly ‘clean’ ingredients makes it a complete YES in my books. It’s also easy to find – derma e products can be found at Shoppers, or you can buy from their online store if you’re in the States (or from Well.ca in Canada).

derma e products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free.

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In honour of Earth Day: A skincare trio by affordable (and Canadian!) eco-brand Graydon

So…I’ve been going a little bit skincare crazy since being on maternity leave. Yep. What can I say? I get bored and I need to indulge my beauty habit somehow, and hoards of makeup just doesn’t make sense right now (though I did pick up a few things during the Sephora sale…purchases to be revealed once I receive them all [I made a last minute 3rd order late last night :S]). I actually purchased the products in this post before the ones I wrote about last week; I was trying to get my fix in a more economical way…clearly that didn’t work. But what, ho! – the brand Graydon is a sweet little homegrown eco-conscious brand (based out of T.O.!) that I think deserves some attention, and what better day to do it than on Earth Day?!

Graydon skincare

First, a quick primer. Graydon’s tag line is Clinical Luxury by Nature – quoted as such because: 1) their products contain bioactive ingredients that work to nourish the skin, such as antioxidants, linoleic acids, and vitamins and minerals; 2) they aim to create products that not only work but feel lovely to use and look great on your vanity; and 3) they utilize ‘plant powered’ ingredients and ‘choose to source organic plant based ingredients from Canadian growers and manufacturers such as broccoli and berry seeds oil.’ They do not use any nut-derived ingredients due to the potential of allergies, and do not use any mineral oils, chemicals, parabens, sulfates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrance. They’re also gluten-free!

Ok, now that you’ve got the background scoop, here we go. I picked up 3 products so I could form a somewhat well-rounded idea of the brand – a facial mist, a moisturizer, and a facial oil. To begin, let’s start with the Face Food Mineral Mist.

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The Face Food Mineral Mist ($29CADis an elemental mineral mist that boosts hydration in the skin via minerals copper, silver and zinc. Copper is purported to help the production of collagen and elastin, while silver is said to kill bacteria and help neutralize the harsh sodium-fluoride in our tap water. The 3rd mineral, zinc, has been noted to decrease inflammation by helping stop bacterial infection which can make one’s face look red and blotchy.

It’s hard to say much about the effectiveness of this mist I’m used to using facial mists with aloe or glycerin, which leave a trace on the skin – but I do appreciate its simplicity. I don’t have a lot of redness which would be the one way I could judge its efficacy, so I just have to trust that this is in fact doing something! If you’re looking for a no-frills mist however, this is a good option.

Ingredients: ionic copper, silver and zinc infused in purified water and nothing else!

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The Super Sensitive Skin Stuff ($29CAD) moisturizer was created for ‘people with skin that reacts to everything’. Though this hasn’t been an issue for me lately, my skin can be finicky at times so I wanted to have an option for when that situation arises. It has a high aloe content so it is very soothing; it has a medium-heavy consistency (likely due to the plethora of oils such as evening primrose, pomegranate seed and rosehip seed) which sinks in fairly well, but which might be a tad heavy for oilier skins. If I have time, I’ll put this on and let it sink in before doing my makeup so I don’t have a problem with greasiness. I actually love the texture for body though, and often apply a touch to my hands as well.

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Ingredients: purified water (aqua), aloe vera juice (aloe barbadenis), cetyl alcohol (coconut product), stearyl alcohol (mixed plant), black currant seed oil (ribes nigrum), evening primrose seed oil (oenothera biennis), pomegranate seed oil (punica granatum), rose hip seed oil (rosa rubiginosa), vegetable glycerin, sodium chloride (mixed plant), vitamin e (mixed tocopherols), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!

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Finally, we have The Serum ($46CAD). Graydon states that ’50 pounds of fresh Canadian berries go into this [serum],’ and the array is what drew me to the product (and actually the brand itself) in the first place. Cold-pressed blueberry, cranberry, and red raspberry seed oils (the latter which contains natural SPF and is also great at combating blemishes) are mega-antioxidant powerhouses, and are high in linoleic acid (which if you recall, my skin favours) and alpha-linolenic acid. A serious source of Vitamin E by the way of tocopherol, as well as Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, rounds out the blend nicely.

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The color of this oil should tell you just how concentrated and pure it is – it smells faintly of blueberries. The viscosity is a touch thick but not too much so, though the oil spreads much more easy with a damp face. Though the brand suggests mist the skin after application (?), I recommend misting first then applying the oil straight away. Sometimes I will mix the oil with the ‘Skin Stuff’ for a lighter application (though either way, I like to leave it to soak in for a bit before applying makeup). It leaves my skin feeling plump and well-protected. I tend to use this oil in the daytime to take advantage of the natural SPF benefits of the red raspberry seed oil. EDIT: I forgot to mention that this has a pump dispenser that gives you the perfect amount to apply to your face. Droppers are all well and good, but give me a pump that keeps me from over-applying any day of the week! GENIUS.

Ingredients: cold pressed blueberry seed oil (vaccinum myrtillus), cold pressed cranberry seed oil (vaccinium macrocarpon), cold pressed red raspberry seed oil (rubus idaeus), meadowfoam seed oil (limnanthes alba), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!

Overall, my foray into the Graydon brand has been quite fruitful – though the products are quite simple in design, they still feel well thought out and are a nice addition to my routine. I like that they don’t compete with my more aggressive treatment products but rather support them without being too plain. If you’re looking to try some eco-conscious products but don’t want to break the bank, this is an excellent brand with which to start!!

FYI I bought the trio from Clementine Fields.

Have you tried Graydon products? Is your skincare routine more basic or very involved?

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Toeing the ‘natural skincare’ line with Boscia

For whatever reason, the last couple months of 2014 saw me researching and wish-listing non-green beauty products, though I’ve been dedicated to ‘clean’ skincare for well over a year now. I think the combination of interesting new releases plus just getting bored with my current routine (I am a fickle Gemini, after all) led me to this phase; even so, I scrutinized every ingredient list and in the end turned down a lot of potential products that just didn’t pass my ruthless inspections. One brand did make its way into my routine was Boscia, which toes the line between conventional and more ‘natural’ skincare, due to the fact that it doesn’t contain preservatives in it’s formulas. It’s also botanically-based, but that doesn’t really mean much to me – there are a ton of cosmetic lines that make the same claim (Clarins comes to mind) but they still contain fragrance and a few other ingredients of which I usually steer clear. In any case, Boscia does have some nice products that do not contain such ingredients, and so I felt confident in picking up a couple of items from the brand during the Sephora VIB sale, namely the All-In-One BB Eye Brightener w/SPF 20 ($47CAD) and the Cool Blue Hydration Essence ($60CAD).

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The BB Eye Brightener was a planned purchase, as I needed a new eye cream and was keen to pick one with an SPF. The fact that this claimed to also brighten the eye area optically (as it’s tinted, and provides sheer coverage due to the physical SPF titanium dioxide) as well as over time (via wakame, which is purported to brighten skintone and diminish dark circles) made this an easy choice for me – sleep can sometimes be elusive in pregnancy, for various reasons (finding comfortable positions, thoughts about the future, peeing every few hours, etc.), so I’ve been battling my dark circles more than usual of late.

Boscia All-In-One BB Eye Brightener

I’ve been using the Brightener regularly every morning and I like it; the texture is perfect – not too thin, but not too thick that it’s hard to smooth around the eye. It does lighten up my undereye area because of it’s BB/tinted properties, and it sinks in quickly while leaving the skin around my eyes lightly hydrated (I don’t suffer from dry undereyes). It’s not a miracle worker, however, and I don’t suddenly look fabulously rested from using this – I find most of the brightening effect comes from the tint of the cream and not from the formula itself improving my eye area over time. But honestly – what does? I have yet to find that elusive treatment that will actually lighten up my eye darkness long term (however, if you know of a product that does this – SHARE, PLEASE!!).

Ingredients: 1,2-Hexanediol, Algae Extract, Allantoin, Alumina, Arginine, Bakuchiol, Butylene Glycol, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylyl Methicone, Carbomer, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Extract, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dipeptide-2, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Epilobium Angustifolium Extract, Glycereth-26, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone, Hydroxyethylcelluose, Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Iron Oxides (CI 77492), Iron Oxides (CI 77499), Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Methicone, Mica, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprate, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Panthenol, PEG/ PPG-20/15 Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Polypropylsilsesquioxane, Polysorbate 20, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Silica, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Extract, Sodium Chloride, Sodium PCA, Steareth- 20, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Water.

The Cool Blue Hydration Essence seems to be something of a mystery to many. Designed to ‘create lasting moisturization and firmness while calming and cooling the skin,’ I picked this up on a whim – I always love a good serum, and as winter was fast approaching I figured I could use a little extra boost in the hydration department, without going overboard on my normal-oily skin. At first glance/use, this reminds me a lot of Indeed Labs Hydraluron – it sort of seems like it’s not doing anything, but I suspect it’s getting to the dehydration in a deeper, less visible way (or so I tell myself).

Boscia Cool Blue Hydration Essence

Quite honestly, I’ve been using this for about two months now, and I don’t see any huge changes in my skin – but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it! Though our winter for the most part so far has been quite mild, I’ve found that using just this and a light moisturizer on top has been sufficient to keep any flakiness or dry skin entirely at bay. It feels lovely going on – it’s quite thin and spreads easily over the skin, and leaves just a hint of a cooling sensation behind (it lasts only briefly). Leaving it to penetrate for a minute or two, I follow up with my moisturizer, and I’m good to go. I DO find that without moisturizer on top, it can leave my skin feeling a touch tight (which likely attributes to the negative reviews of this on Sephora about it being drying – but people, the instructions say to use it PRIOR TO MOISTURIZER. Cam on!).

One thing to note about this product which I found particularly interesting, is that the star compound in the essence, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate (fermented yeast filtrate), is the same top ingredient found in the cult-favorite SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. The SK-II is $131.25CAD for 2.5oz, or $52.50/oz…while the Boscia product, sized at 1.7oz, works out to be $35.29/oz. Additionally, the SK-II contains parabens, while the Boscia does not. Something things to consider, anyway!

Ingredients: Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Methyl Gluceth-20, Dipropylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol,Glycerin, Lactobacillus Ferment, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Sea Whip Extract, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Caffeine, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Rose Flower Oil, Rosmarinus Offinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Water, Menthyl Lactate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Acrylates/Vinyl/Isodecanoate Crosspolymer, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Hydroxide.

Overall, I kind of like this step in my routine, buuuuut…I’m not sure if I’d repurchase. It’s just so hard to quantify the effectiveness of these kinds of products, truthfully!

As for the eye BB, I would potentially repurchase; I’ve been into these tinted eye creams for day for the last while (I’ll take all the help I can get), as I think that’s about as much lightening as I can expect to receive from any eye treatment, and this one does that job well, with the added benefit of protecting my eye area from the sun.

Have you tried any Boscia skincare products? What tricks or products do you use to help you look rested?

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La Bella Figura Barbary Fig Seed Oil {A Review}

That’s kind of a dull title, true, but honestly what I wanted to write I didn’t think would reel you guys in (“La Bella Figura Barbary Fig Seed Oil….smells bad but it works!“). Was I right?😉

To put it plainly, yes, this oil doesn’t smell the best – I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I want to say it’s like stinky feet LOL. Not quite that, but its one of those smells that isn’t nice, but that isn’t so bad that you’d run screaming, you know? Tolerable, I guess. Anyway, my point is, I don’t want that to sway you from trying it out (at least a sample!), as it’s a nice oil and it’s particularly ideal for this time of year when the weather turns cool and you need a little something extra to comfort and hydrate your skin.

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Here are some reasons why LBF’s Barbary Fig Seed Oil ($99CAD for 1oz) is lovely:

1) It contains only pure organic barbary fig seed oil (also known as prickly pear seed oil) – no essential oils or other ingredients that can cause irritation to sensitive skin

2) It’s high in vitamin E (protects against free radicals – is particularly great to use pre- and post-sun exposure!) and linoleic acid (remember my previous post on fatty acids?)

3) It helps stimulate new cell growth, calms inflammation, and helps gently treat hyperpigmentation and aging or wrinkle-prone skin

4) Wonderful for hormonal skin types

What sold me on this oil when I bought it back in late winter last year was the fact that it had no essential oils in it (oils that have a ton of EOs freak me out a bit) and that it was high in linoleic acid, which seems to agree well with my skin type. Later, I was also thankful to have this in my arsenal, as it’s claim to be great for hormonal skin came in handy when I had my miscarriage, and my skin completely went bat-shit (evidenced here). Though it didn’t ‘fix’ my skin, it seemed to minimize further breakouts, which at that point was all I could ask for.

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Since my skin has calmed down, I’ve found a new appreciation for this oil, as it has a medium viscosity and feels slightly heavy going on, but sinks into skin really nicely without being too greasy. Though I could only use this sparingly during the summer, I think it will be perfect now that the temperatures have dropped and my skin isn’t an oil factory as much (though that ‘pregnancy glow’ seems to persist, so I still need to be careful).

I find the best way to use this is to apply to slightly damp skin, by either not patting skin dry fully after washing, or by using a facial mist (my preference) and then applying a few drops straight-away. It glides over the skin so silkily this way, and leaves my skin perfectly hydrated and protected.

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Oh, and about the smell? While I don’t wear this much when Ryan is home (lol), I do find that the scent dissipates quickly and it doesn’t linger at all on my skin. ENTIRELY bearable, for anyone who is put off from trying it for that reason (I completely understand, but give it a shot via a sample at least!).  Though the price is quite high, I purchased this when Clementine Fields had a promotion to ease the blow – I would suggest holding out for something like that too (they often do promos for LBF products), if you try it and love it!

Have you tried La Bella Figura products before? Would you consider using a product that didn’t smell great, but that worked?

PS: I know there haven’t been any holiday posts around here, and for that I apologize – but honestly, I haven’t had the time! I had this and the Yüli post in the works for ages, and I’d rather get *something* up than just have radio silence. I had all these grand plans for themed posts and the like, but it seems I’m in a weird nesting phase where I just keep doing crazy things like mailing out 50 Christmas cards (no joke), and spending all day baking for a dessert party I had last week, and essentially just being like Super Mom without actually being a mom yet LOL. I’m in training, I guess! It’s too bad, because I’ve done some really fun makeup and nail looks for the season – I made a promise to myself to wear some form of shimmer/ glitter every single day this month, and I have:) Plus, I’ve even been doing some minor nail art! Ryan gets home tomorrow for the holiday, so it’s unlikely I’m suddenly going to find MORE time to put up a few fun posts, but I will try my best before Christmas! I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday to the max!

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Yüli Skincare: An introduction and review {plus a story}

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I’m going to preface this post first with a disclaimer – it’s going to be a review, yes, of some wonderful products from Yüli, an organic brand that I’ve fallen head over heels for. But I am going to share a little story with you first that is personal and a bit sad, and I don’t want anyone to feel duped or like I lured them in with a promise of review only to drag you into something else entirely. These products have a close link to my story, and I can’t share one without the other. I hope you don’t mind! (if you do, that’s completely OK – just scroll down till you start seeing pictures to get the scoop on the products!)

Back around Christmastime in 2013, Ryan and I made a huge decision to start trying to have a baby. We had been talking about it for some time, but were trying to wait until ‘the time was right.’ Of course, most of you know that there never really is a right time for these things, so one day I told him that I thought we should just go for it, and of course he was 100% on board (I think he was just waiting for me to make the call lol). I went off the pill right away, mid-pack (stupid!) and off we went. We figured it would take some time before anything happened, and so we weren’t feeling any pressure or stress, which was great. It was just exciting to know that we were taking this next step in our lives together.

To our complete surprise, in early February I started feeling a bit different leading up to my period that month. I was having some cramping, which never happened to me pre-period, and I was dead tired every night, falling asleep by 9pm. When the date my period should have started came and went, I had Ryan grab a pregnancy test from the nearest pharmacy, and with a bit of trepidation I took the test the next morning alone before he got out of bed. I was nervous because I was hoping hard for a positive result, but felt that it was too good to be true. Amazingly, it was positive. I bounded into the bedroom, woke him up, and cried ‘We’re pregnant!’ Sleepy and stunned, Ryan took a second to recover, before he broke into a huge smile. It truly was one of the best days both of us had ever had.

Over the next couple weeks, we shared the news with our families and reveled in our future. We planned, we chose names (seriously!), we basked in the excitement. I would ride the bus home and daydream about how I was going to be a mother soon. It was a time of bliss and contentment.

Two weeks into the pregnancy (which seemed like ages, especially when most people didn’t know our secret), I started having some mild spotting. Immediately I was googling what that could mean and hoping that it was nothing. The second time it happened, Ryan called the Nova Scotia nurses line, and they walked us through some questions. Naturally, they didn’t default to panic mode, but they suggested I see a doctor or go to the hospital in the next couple days to be sure.

The next day, a Monday, I went to work feeling fine. After about an hour, I went to the bathroom, and was stunned to see blood streaming out into the toilet. In shock, I left work without speaking to anyone, and called Ryan and my mom in a tearful panic, saying I was heading to the hospital Emergency unit, where they met me a short while later. After waiting hours to be seen, and having my hope rise when one doctor told me after her preliminary examination that things seemed fine, only to have it plummet when I had an internal ultrasound, after which I started bleeding profusely, the crushing results were that I had had a miscarriage.

If any of you have had bad shit happen to you in your life (which is likely all of you), you can imagine our heartbreak. Without going on and on about it, it was a tough time, made especially tough because you’re falling from such a high. But, life throws you a curveball sometimes. Ryan was extremely supportive, and we got through it, as you do. I’m not trying to minimize it, because it was one of the hardest things I’ve endured in my life, but miscarriages are common – probably more common than some realize – and of course now being pregnant again and with things progressing nicely at 25 weeks, it all seems hazy and the pain has dulled considerably. However, I know that its not as easy to move past for some, and to you my heart truly feels for your pain. I hope if you’re in the early days of that experience, that you feel hope that things usually work out eventually.

So. The REASON I’m telling you all this is because after the miscarriage, my skin went completely whack, and I had to pull out the big guns to do some damage control. First, let me show you what happened after my hormone levels spiked and then came crashing down in such a short time frame:

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I know that for anyone who has struggled with acne, this may seem like small potatoes. First, let me say that it was worse in person – and also understand that when you go from having essentially unblemished skin your entire life, to this, the frustration and dismay is considerable. This occurred one month after the miscarriage, almost overnight. For about 6 weeks afterward, nothing I did to my skin seemed to work on these breakouts – though I was very gentle with my skin (I don’t think bringing out heavy artillery when your skin is reacting like this is helpful), I was diligent in cleaning and hydrating with a simple moisturizer, and wore little makeup, to no avail. And my skin was just a small piece of the body breakdown – my hair fell out in copious amounts, my periods were different (I have always been a 28 day gal to a T), and my mental state was off (I felt angry a lot). For someone who is quite healthy, I found the physical ramifications almost more difficult to deal with than the loss itself.

After about 2 months, my body started to come back to normal – or at least, a new ‘normal’, for me – but I was left with some ‘souvenirs’ of the experience:

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The scarring was almost more noticeable than the acne, as it was much darker in color and required a lot of work to conceal. IT SUCKED. As you do when you’re a beauty blogger (or an aficionado of beauty in general), I did a bunch of research to see what I could use against these unsightly remnants of my hormone roller coaster. Somehow, I came across the brand Yüli, an exceptional skincare line based on the use of cutting-edge green biotechnology. I’d seen a few posts particularly on a product called Cell Perfecto PM, a corrective serum designed to “fade hyperpigmentation, correct dark spots and discoloration, and heal acne scars and sun damage for a brighter, smoother, more even complexion,” where the user seemed to achieve great success – I was sold.

Yüli

Yüli products are not cheap. The Cell Perfecto PM set me back $98US for 1oz. But at this stage, I was desperate for anything to work. As the brand offers a shipping discount ($8 off) when you purchase $150 or more, I also picked up one of their Elixirs, Panacea ($68 for 3.4oz), a rebalancing, clarifying and hydrating toner mist suitable for normal, combination, oily or blemish-prone skin.

Yüli Cell Perfecto PM Yüli Cell PerfectoI’m not sure if you can see, but there are little bits of sediment in the serum, which is just some of the time-released actives – this does not feel gritty on the skin AT ALL.

As Yüli mixes their product fresh to order, it took about a month for my products to arrive – at the beginning of May, right before our trip to Florida. I was so eager to get cracking, I brought both with me, packing the beautiful miron glass bottles with care. Immediately, I could tell that these products were special – my skin was crazy-soft overnight, and felt supple and hydrated. As there were no essential oils used in either product (a rarity in the organic/green beauty world), I experienced zero irritation from either, and it gave me peace of mind every time I used them. The serum is of slightly medium density – it doesn’t feel heavy, but you only need a few drops to cover your face. I apply it especially sparingly to my forehead as if I use too much I can wake up with a slightly greasy feeling there.

Ingredient list for Cell Perfecto PM: Bioregenerating Botanical Infusion (Botanical Glycosides, Sea Minerals Complex), S. chinensis (Jojoba) oil*, M. integrifolia (Macadamia) oil*, O. ficus-indica (Indian Fig) seed oil*, C. inophyllum (Tamanu) oil*, H. rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) oil*, A. uva-ursi (Bearberry) extract*, H. italicum (Helichrysum)* extract, G. glabra (Liquorice) extract*, C. asiatica (Gotu Kola) extract*, Renew Minerals Complex (Methysulfonylmethane (MSM)* Derived from Pine Lignin, Phytosterols derived from Flax), A. linearis (Rooibos) extract*, B. carterii (Frankincense) extract*, D. carota (Carrot) seed extract^^, G. lucidum (Reishi) extract*, L-arginine, L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), L-Gluconic Acid (Derived from Kombucha Tea Ferment).

After using the two products for a month, I saw a visible difference in my skin. While the Panacea Elixir was refreshing and helped keep any new breakouts from forming (and quite honestly it just feels lovely), it was the Cell Perfecto that truly won my allegiance to the brand. After that mere month, my acne scars had faded CONSIDERABLY – so much so that using just a foundation covered them easily. After two months, my acne scars were completely healed without a trace. I know that acne scars do fade over time, but with darker skin like mine it usually takes about six months or so. The speediness in which I experienced this fading in unheard of for me! I wish I had taken photos of the evidence, but unfortunately (VERY fortunately), I got pregnant again at which point my brain kind of ~blipped~ and I completely dropped the ball. But if you look at some of my posts from that time [such as this one (six weeks after starting the product), or this one (two months after)], you’ll notice that there’s no scarring to be seen (and I’m fairly certain I’m foundation-less in both). HOO-RICKIN’-RAY.

Ingredient list for Panacea Elixir: D-Aloe barbadenis, R. damascena (rose) hydrolat*, H. italicum (helichrysum) hydrolat*, L. angustifolia (lavender) hydrolat*, H. virginiana (witch hazel) hydrolat^, H. italicum/L. angustifolia (helichrysum/lavender) hydrolat*, frequency enhanced water, vegetable glycerine, C. sativus (cucumber) extract, N. officinale(watercress) extract*, biodynamic fruit enzymes, trace minerals complex, colloidal silver.

To say that I’m a Yüli convert is probably an understatement. Since trying those two products, I’ve picked up a few more from the brand – a replenishment of the Panacea Elixir, plus a 1.7oz of the Cocoon Elixir ($36US) and a jar of the Pure Treatment Mask ($65US). The Cocoon Elixir is just as lovely as the Panacea, and perfect for winter with it’s soothing, healing and hydrating qualities. The Pure mask is your typical powdered clay mask which requires you to add water or your medium of choice to activate it’s detoxifying and repairing properties. I use this every couple of weeks to really clarify and refresh my skin, and it’s quite lovely. As it’s so finely milled, you need only the smallest amount to cover your whole face, so this will last me ages I’m sure.

Yüli Pure MaskYüli Pure MaskClose-up shot of the Pure mask – yikes, look at the gunk coming out of the pores on my nose!

I’ve already got my next purchases planned from the brand – a full-size of the Cocoon Elixir (I’m in love!) and their Halcyon Facial Cleanser, as I’m in need of a new face wash. I’d also like to try another serum – I’m *just* finishing up the bottle of Cell Perfecto after using it almost every single night for the past 7 months (!!!) – and I’m considering buying Liquid Courage, a concentrated antioxidant serum (though the price is a little terrifying at $125 for 1oz). I’m fully committed to trying every single product from the brand, which is entirely possible given it’s perfectly-sized capsule collection.

Yüli

Yup, I definitely have an addiction.

Have you tried anything from Yüli? Have you ever experienced a severe hormonal breakout?

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Final Empties Post of 2013!

Woohoo!  My last empties post of the year.  As these are always lengthy (because I am too damn chatty) (and even though I just did one last month…how do I use up products so quickly?), I’m going to get right to it.

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Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Conditioner – I do like the Organix conditioners, and this worked quite well to hydrate and detangle, but I preferred the heaviness of the Macadamia Oil version to this.  Smelled DELICIOUS in the summer though!

Earth Science Deep Conditioning Masque – 2nd tube of this, and I still feel the same as I did when I first tried it.  It’s really good shit, dudes.  For $13CAD, it’s one of the best deep conditioners I’ve ever used, and to top it off – all natural!  If I were so fickle I’d buy another tube, and I still may…I’m just too curious to settle *just  yet*😉

Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil – I really liked this oil a lot, much better than the Ojon Restorative oil that preceded it.  It just had a great consistency and smell, and it never irritated my scalp or caused any breakouts around my forehead, which can happen with products like this.  Good stuff, and lasted AGES.

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Haus of Gloi Komodo Pumpkin Butter – don’t mistake mangosteen for mango, my friends – NOT THE SAME.  I found the scent of this quite intrusive and it has this slightly rotten fruit smell…so ya, just not diggin’ it.  So, I used it as a foot cream!  Problem solved.

Nutiva Coconut Oil – great stuff.  I used this as my primary body moisturizer throughout last spring/summer and it was awesome – it really kept my skin in great condition, prevented eczema flare-ups and helped heal old scars that I sometimes get from past eczema patches, which tend to result in the absence of pigmentation.  However, once the weather cooled it wasn’t quite enough, so I would either layer it with a moisturizer, or use it in my hair periodically as a deep treatment.  I’ll definitely be picking up another tub of this – so many uses! However, keep in mind that coconut oil is highly comedogenic – except when it’s in the form below:

Fractionated Coconut Oil – fractionated oil is non-comedogenic, perhaps due to having had all it’s triglycerides removed.  It has a super-long shelf life and increased stability, and it’s antioxidant potential is more jacked up than regular coconut oil.  It’s also in a TON of things and usually listed as ‘caprylic/capric triglyceride.’  My roommate had left this behind when she moved so I used it up – it was a lot easier to use than the solid coconut oil (though a bit messier at times) but I found it slightly less moisturizing on my body.

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Getting through my non-organic products!  I’ve only got a few last products and a couple straggler samples to get through and I’ll be essentially fully ‘green’, woot!

eos Lip Sphere – this balm works really well and was exceptional under lipstick, offering just enough hydration without much slip, but honestly the size of it sometimes felt very cumbersome.  It’s a cute novelty, but not the most practical – though I do maintain that they’re terribly easy to find in your purse!

Indeed Labs Hydraluron – I’m sure this does have a purpose, but I don’t think I have dry or dehydrated enough skin to see a difference.  I don’t miss it.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector – this stuff does work well, for those of you not concerned about using non-organic products.  I really do like serums because you can pile them on and they generally don’t have heavy moisture to the skin which can make you greasy as the day wears on.

RoC Soft Smoothing Scrub – too gentle for my liking, though this is a good choice for a morning cleanser just to wash the night’s oils off, or as a second cleanse.  But as a ‘scrub’?  No thanks.  One more non-organic product down!

Avene Thermal Spring Water – I love misting my face before applying any serums or oils, as it just feels good to seal the moisture in…but paying for water in a can kinda irks me.  I far prefer the facial mists with a little bit extra in them, like hydrosols etc. that add something more.  Right now I’m using Kahina Giving Beauty’s Facial Mist and I quite like it (though its just so darn SMALL at 1.6oz for $46CAD…ouch!).

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Samples!  Lots of good organic stuff here.  The Marie Veronique Organics Treatment Oil is excellent for keeping oily, pore-clogged, acne-prone skin in check.  I don’t have the latter, but I do get clogged pores on my nose and cheek area, and I found the sample really refined my skin nicely.  I actually just purchased the full-size last week!  I tried the new Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Body Serum this past weekend, and while it worked nicely on my skin, the scent it NOT for me – far too spicy and heady for me.  I’ll stick with my Lina Hanson Global Body Serum, thanks.  The Soapwalla Deodorant sample lasted ages, and I enjoyed it so much I purchased it last week as well – it smells awesome and actually works a treat, even on wetness!  It’s not entirely as effective as traditional antiperspirants, but for every day wear its perfect and I really like it a lot.  I thought the Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream was gonna be my JAM for the dry patches I get sometimes from my eczema, but it sometimes made my skin itch a bit rather than soothe it, so I’ll have to keep looking for a nice nighttime hydrating cream.  M.J.’s Calendula Cream on the other hand, was a freakin’ miracle product – this honestly cleared up my eczema overnight on my hands, which tends to be a persistent problem for me.  I ended up buying a similar product from the local market, but I’m not sure it’s *quite* as effective, though I do like to support local.    The Eminence Blueberry Soy Exfoliating Cleanser was a strange product.  I used it as either a morning or second cleanse and I didn’t notice any exfoliating, and it left a slight film on my skin so I’d recommend using a washcloth to remove it.  Not something I’d spend my money on, overall.  The Rahua Shampoo was fine, but I didn’t enjoy the smell at all, and to spend $$ on a shampoo that I don’t love is just not gonna happen.  One of our local high-end department stores here, Mills, will soon be stocking the organic brand Babor, and the SA’s gave me a few samples of this Calm & Relax Cream to try.  It was pretty great, truth be told!  I used it after doing an intense masque treatment, and it was soothing and hydrating without being heavy at all.  I just may purchase a full-size when the line becomes fully available.  Finally, another Eminence sample I snagged was this Red Currant Rapid Infusion Masque…suffice to say it was a total dud.  I have no idea what it was supposed to do, but I wasn’t wowed.  PASS.

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Le makeup.

Sephora She Sparkles Gloss – decent gloss formula, decent shade.  Despite the fact that I didn’t love it, I actually used this up fairly quickly in the grand gloss scheme of things.  Huh.

NARS Gold Digger Gloss sample – HATE the brush on these Larger Than Life glosses, uh.  So. Tiny!  I liked the shade well enough, but the formula isn’t my favourite – similar to MAC lipglasses, which means they wear fairly well, but I’m not a fan of the stickiness.  It still looks quite full here but I wasn’t getting any more product, so out it goes.

Marc Jacobs Blacquer Mascara – this was such a weird product, like webbing for the eyes!  I loved that it had this kind of patent-leather shine, but it applied horribly and made a total mess of my lashes every time.  Yuk.

MUFE Eyeshadow #17 Espresso – I thought I’d use this a ton and then hardly did.  Then I dropped it and it crumbled, and then honestly, I just was OVER IT.  Plus, I now have a similar shade in my Laura Mercier palette, so I don’t NEED YOU ANYMORE.  *I really hate broken makeup!*

NARS Pro Prime Pore-Refining Primer – this was just meh.  I used it regularly for a couple weeks to use it up, and I wasn’t wowed – I still got shine after a few hours, and though my makeup wore a bit longer, it wasn’t anything to write home about.  Plus, non-organic…I’m not totally converted to organic makeup (or at all, really) but primer is like skincare, so I don’t think I’d buy this even if it did work well.

Marie Veronique Organics Everyday Coverage – the darkest shade offered is still too light for me, so this was a no-go.  Bummer, as I’ve ready a lot of great things about it!  Can’t beat coverage plus SPF in one.

I’m now finished my empties for the year!  I was going to do a tally in each category, but honestly that’s just too much damn work LOL.  Suffice to say, I feel really good about how many non-organic products I’ve used up, and I’m pretty stoked that I used up a whole gloss (and a half!) – I’ve been trying really hard to use up any lip products that are at least half-gone, because they’re much more feasible to finish (as opposed to blush…let’s not go there).  I’m going to make a real effort next year to cull my stash to only products I really love – I know I’ve said this before, and I continue to make progress, but I think next year will be THE year.  I’m loosening my grip on keeping things because they ‘should’ work or because they were expensive and therefore I have to use them.  I just want to pull out any shade of any product and be like ‘Yep, looks great’ with minimal effort.  I learn more and more what looks good on me and what doesn’t.  And also, it’s a lot easier to reduce the stash when you focus all your effort / money on skincare!!  I certainly haven’t saved a dime not buying makeup, because organic skincare costs a pretty penny in many cases, but the whole ritual of applying oils etc. is really up my alley, so I don’t mind.  And less makeup means less anxiety in that area – I never overbuy skincare so I never have to worry about having too much of that!

So, out with the old (thinking) and in with the new (skincare, not makeup).  Now I need to put my 2014 resolutions to paper!

How did your empties go this year?  Do you think your reducing or expanding?  

 

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Skincare and Sunscreen and Polish, Oh My!

In the past couple weeks, I’ve been picking up or receiving packages full of great treats which I’ve thoroughly been enjoying.  At the moment, I’m still in the testing phase for most of the products so no reviews quite yet, but so far everything has been really stellar.  I’ve also purchased a few new nail polishes, and hope to get some pictures up tomorrow!  For now, I’m just going to leave you with a few teaser photos and some quick thoughts.

Skincare

Skincare

Boscia Tsubaki Facial Oil – I picked this up during the Sephora sale in April but just opened it within the last month or so.  Even though the consistency is lighter than my beloved Tarte Maracuja Oil, I find it’s a little more oily somehow so I only need the smallest amount.  Otherwise, it’s quite nice and is a pleasure to use, though I’m not sure it gives me the same results as the Tarte oil.

Boscia Clear Complexion Treatment – Lately I’ve been breaking out here and there, which is very unusual for me.  I attributed it to something going on with my skin so I picked up this natural BHA product to see if it would help clear out my pores.  While it feels really great going on – lightweight and absorbs quickly – and leaves my skin feeling super smooth, I think the real reason for the breakouts was putting coconut oil in my hair every night; I think it was getting on my pillow and clogging my pores a bit. Since I’ve stopped doing that, the breakouts have been clearing up – but who know, could be this product too!

MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel – I needed a new antioxidant product and have read a lot of great this about this gel.  It’s excellent for oilier skin, especially in these warmer months, as it absorbs lightning fast with no residue yet still hydrates.  I am already in love with this!

Indeed Labs Hydraluron – I grabbed this on a whim as I needed to spend $50 to get 20x the bonus points at Shoppers last weekend.  It was on sale for $20 from $27 and I’d been wanting to check it out at some point, so I made the purchase.  I use this during the day when I want my skin to look plump and hydrated without the accompanying greasy look from many other moisturizers.  I can’t tell if this does much else to my skin just yet, but I’m definitely not noticing any issues!

Sunscreens

SunscreenI had to insert a photo of my new VS bikini somehow – I love it so much!  I have a purse, a pair of flats, and now this swimsuit in this neon lime-yellow color….I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Vichy Capital Soleil Mexoryl XL Sheer Lotion SPF45 – this sunscreen is FANTASTIC.  I tend to steer clear of chemical sunscreens due to my eczema, but read a good point somewhere about Vichy and La Roche-Posay being great brands to try for broad spectrum sun protection because they are often formulated for sensitive skin.  Whatever the case, this really is excellent on my fussy skin and I’ve had absolutely no problems or irritation from it whatsoever.  It’s also incredibly lightweight and non-greasy, and doesn’t leave a whitish cast on my skin at all.  It actually makes me want to wear sunscreen all the time.  I adore it!  It’s not cheap at about $27CAD, but it does go on sale (I purchased it for about $18) and it’s well worth the cost.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF60 – I just purchased this last weekend along with the Hydraluron, and I haven’t opened it yet as I am *just* finishing my Clinique sunscreen now.  I have tried a sample of this however, and really liked how thin in consistency it was, how easy it spread on my face, and how it doesn’t leave a whitish cast.  I have high hopes for this one!

Polish

Polish

Dior Spring Ball – my first Dior polish!!  I wasn’t interested in these spring polishes at all, until I tried this one on at Sephora a few weeks ago and fell in love.  However, it was sold out everywhere by that time – but I persevered and ordered it online from Sephora (along with two shades of NARS’ Radiant Creamy concealers – which I LOVE).  Unfortunately, I’m a little disappointed in the shade – it’s not as beautiful as I remember, sadly.  But it’s still very pretty and wearable, and I don’t regret the purchase too much.

Essie Come Here! – I have so many polishes in this color vein…but I can’t help myself ~sigh~  I got a hankering for a pretty coral red and felt I *needed* to have one, but I probably have a bunch of shades similar to this.  However, I really do love it and I find this kind of tone works for just about every outfit.  But – NO MORE CORALS.  At least for a little while ;0)

a-England Sleeping Palace – the latest a-England release kind of crept up out of nowhere (as usual), and I ogled the beautiful shades along with everyone else.  I actually have quite a few of the brands polishes, and usually pick up one or two from each collection.  This was the stunner for me – a gorgeous dusty mauve with prismatic shimmer.  It doesn’t feel like a summer shade to me, but come fall I’m going to be all over this.  It’s really quite beautiful!

Zoya Robyn – I saw this on Lakeisha’s blog a couple weeks ago and decided I had to have it.  It looks better on her than I, but I still like it a lot and can’t wait to wear this as a pedi shade.  I had no colors like it at all so I’m pretty happy to add it to the collection.

As you can see, I have a lot of new things on the go!  I’m almost at a skincare utopia which feels pretty damn awesome – I’d just like to get an antioxidant masque (Kahina’s looks/sounds perfect), an exfoliator of some sort (the Pure + Simple Organic Vanilla Cleansing Powder Becca mentioned here is right up my alley), and a cleansing oil (maybe Tatcha’s??) when my Clinique Take the Day Off balm runs out.  In the sunscreen arena, I’m blissfully pleased with Vichy’s offering, and suspect I’ll feel the same about LRP’s too.  The polishes weren’t all ectasy-inducing, but I’m pretty happy with them as well.

What sort of products have you been buying lately?

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